Fearless Questions

Following our Questions to Freedom

Do You Need Hell?

“Do you need Hell to sell Jesus?”

It’s a line I’ve heard a good friend of mine share over the past few years when he’s talking to other Christians about evangelism (which is often defined, whether accurately or not, as attempting to convince a non-Christian person to convert towards putting their hope for life in Jesus Christ).

hellOf course we’ve all had differing experiences of people trying to convert us to various things over the years.

The cult of Mac finally had their way in converting me from pc’s to Apple a few years back and I’ve enjoyed the ride.  However, the Amway pitch that I rebuffed after repeated and strenuous pressure-filled conversations was the beginning of the end of a decent friendship.

The Amway folks loved their products.  They were passionate about their new entrepreneurial adventure. They offered me the hope of being as passionate as they were for the same cause…that I could duplicate their passion and success.


The Mac users went about the business of converting me much differently (if they were trying to convert me at all).  When I would complain about how hard it was for me to accomplish certain creative digital tasks with my pc, they simply responded that, for the most part, they no longer struggled with those same issues. 

My response, of course, was “How is that possible?!”

I wanted the calm that they had.  I wanted the cool products they created.  I wanted something that worked. 

And I was willing to ask them what they had that made this possible.

Look…I’m not here to bash Amway.  I’m also not here to promote Apple products (Heaven knows they’ve already spent enough billions of dollars to creep into your psyche).

And yet as I consider both scenarios, the ongoing question seems to be: Why?  Why are you making a switch?  Why are you trying to convince somebody else to make that switch?

Is this something for your own gain or are you truly trying to help someone? What is your core motivation?

Let me share a verse from the Bible that is often quoted by well-meaning intelligent people ready to convince non-Christians of the validity of a Christian worldview.

1 Peter 3:15  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Always ready to give an answer…boy aren’t they?!  It’s rare that I meet a fired-up evangelical who isn’t ready to give me answers for all the things they believe.

But did I even ask?

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

When was the last time you heard Jesus being shared with someone who was genuinely asking what it was in a particular Christian’s life that seemed to give them so much hope?

Have you EVER been asked that question?

So often the message I hear from evangelicals is that an all-powerful God wants to save you from eternal fire and damnation…if you will just admit you’re a dirty sinner and really don’t want to go to…well…HELL.  Then God will begrudgingly nod you towards heaven having to admit that you had fulfilled His requirements to get in the great eternal church service in the sky.

Good News?

Allegedly, Jesus Christ came to proclaim ‘Good News’.

To dodge eternal flames, is as N.T. Wright has said…”certainly good advice.  But good news?”

Maybe we have been missing something.

In John 10:10 we hear Jesus say “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

My friend…the good news of Jesus has always been an offer of LIFE!

Yes, eternal life…but just as importantly, life now.

When I encounter someone that looks the pain of this world right in the eyes and still has hope, I want to know more.  I want to hear their story.  I want to hear what has given them strength.

When I experience extraordinary kindness from a stranger, I wonder…why?

When I am offered compassion by some, but not by others…I want to ask where the compassion is coming from.

To experience the compassion, kindness and love of another human being…to see a spark in their life that shines brightly in a harsh world…I want to ask where that comes from.

Because in our souls, we all want life. We all want peace.

We all want hope.

Jesus came to bring hope to the hopeless…to bring life and freedom. 

That is Good News.

If you are like many of the other church going Christians I know, you will hear the call to evangelism.  That we need to go out and have the “tough conversations” with our friends and co-workers, necessary to convert them.

I must ask: 

At what point did the Good News of Jesus bringing hope, freedom and life to people become a tough conversation?

My guess is, it has a lot to do with whether that person has actually experienced true freedom before.  True forgiveness.  Real Hope. 

It’s probably also a tough conversation when no one asked your opinion in the first place.

If you carry hope with you in the midst of hardship.  Peace in the midst of pain.  Generosity in the face of scarcity.  Love while surrounded by hatred.  People are going to ask what you have.

Will you need Hell to sell Jesus to them?

I have a notion it might not even be a part of the conversation.

About Jeff Blackburn

Jeff Blackburn is a Spiritual Coach and passionate Truth-Seeker. An alumnus of Oxford University, Jeff is someone who advocates for Freedom and Fullness of Life for All. He believes Jesus offers good news for people everywhere today…not just eternity. Jeff is the Executive Director of Fearless Questions, Inc. and has spent the past 20 years working with people searching for God.